Saturday was a rough looking day on the northern tablelands, with strong gusting cross-winds and temperatures struggling to get out of single digits. It was something of a surprise then that 25 people decided to partake in some challenging scratch racing on the exposed Dangarsleigh course. Partake they did though, and despite the conditions there were some impressive results across two grades.
Mick Harris was “just warming up” for his Division 1 effort from Gunnedah to Tamworth the next day so surely ten others could hang with him for 45 minutes or so? Erm, well, apparently not, but they didn’t do too badly.
The 10-strong A-Grade race set off at quite a clip with the wind making things tough for those trying to follow wheels further back. Within 5km, Swanny and Tom Simmonds had dropped off but they paired up and were chasing hard. Further up the road the remaining 8 riders split again, with Mick now just having Kirky, Jason and Andy Robb for company.
Somehow, Clint Bourke had managed to sneak into B-Grade and this race was following a similar pattern to the one ahead. It too had splintered but the lead group was a healthy 10-strong force that was led around the turn by Bryn Griffiths who looked to be positively relishing the conditions. Phil Thomas also gave the impression he was enjoying things along with Wlko and Pat Ferris.
By the time A-Grade hit the Monument the two strong front-riders had left their peers behind. Mick was stomping away at the front with Andy Robb doing well to stay in contention. Kirky and Jason had dropped back to the bunch which was being driven along strongly by Johnny The Eagle who is in something of a purple patch at the moment. Holly was busting herself and giving everything as usual, ultimately paying the price as she lost touch on the final run-in, no doubt saving it all for the next day. Over the monument Mick left Andy behind and the two then charged along independently for home.
A long, slow turn by a big B-Grade bunch didn’t favour those at the back and Carl Hooton suffered as a result, unable to make the 50m gap that instantly opened up as the front-runners lit things up. He hooked up with the Chris’s (Belson and Stace) to work their way home at a respectable clip but some way off what was now a bunch of just five riders.
Back at the finish line there was shock and despair when Donella Tutt announced that “a man came and took the cash away” and for a while it seemed that the takings might have been misappropriated, however an SMS from club treasurer Captain Creagan cleared things up shortly after.
With financial order restored just in time, attention turned to the horizon and not surprisingly Mick Harris was the lone rider to crest the rise first. He didn’t hold off on the final run-in, charging through in an impressive time and with an average speed the right side of 40kph, despite the rough crosswinds. Andy Robb wasn’t too far behind, capping off an impressive ride that saw him finish over a minute ahead of the bunch.
In B-Grade it was Cat Burglar Bourke who took line honours, comfortably out-sprinting Phil Thomas and Bryn with Wilko and Pat Ferris not far behind. There was a bit of confusion towards the end of the race as Billy, Wilfred, Jacqui and Olive seemed to wait for each other but they regrouped well and closed off another successful, if cold, afternoon of club racing.
Congratulations to Mick and Clint, well done to everyone who came out and raced hard and good luck tomorrow Mick, Holly and Dave.